If you live in California and own a motorcycle, you know how great it is to hop on your bike and take a trip around the state’s beautiful cities or on a highway near a coastline. While it can be great fun and an exciting adventure to explore new areas on your motorcycle, the fact is thousands of motorcycle riders are critically injured each year in accidents. Whether the accident involved the motorcyclist being hit by a motor vehicle, encountering poorly-maintained roads, or other factors, there are many steps that should be taken following such an accident. To aid in preventing these accidents, you should always follow various California laws pertaining specifically to motorcycle safety. If you need more information about these laws, what to do should an accident take place, and how a motorcycle accident lawyer can help you gain compensation for your injuries and other damages, here are some crucial tips to remember.
Call Law Enforcement to the Scene
When you have been the victim of a motorcycle accident in California, always call law enforcement to the scene as quickly as possible. If you are unable to do so because of your injuries, try to make sure someone else does make the 9-1-1 call. Once police officers arrive at the accident scene, they can make sure you and others involved in the accident are safe and start to secure the scene so that they can conduct a crash investigation. This will be critical to you should you file a personal injury lawsuit, since officers will closely examine your actions and your bike leading up to the crash. To make sure your rights are protected during your case, consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Know Your Motorcycle Laws
When you own a motorcycle in California, the state will expect you to abide by the many motorcycle laws it currently has in place. If you don’t and are later involved in a crash, you may find yourself being cited by police and denied compensation by insurance companies. For example, you should always start by wearing your helmet, which will put you in compliance with California Vehicle Code 27803. Also, VC 26709 states your motorcycle must be equipped with left and right mirrors that must be positioned correctly to allow you to see what is around you. In addition, VC 27801 requires your bike’s handlebars be positioned so that your hands are no higher than six inches above your shoulders when seated on your bike. If any of these laws are called into question regarding you and your bike, your personal injury case can be dealt a severe blow. If questions arise about these laws, speak at once with a California motorcycle accident lawyer.
Never Admit Fault for the Accident
Whether or not you believe there may be issues regarding your motorcycle and how it complies with various California vehicle codes, it is vital you choose your words very carefully when speaking of the accident to police and others. Because of this, you should start by never saying anything that makes it sound as if you are telling others the accident was your fault. If you tell police you are sorry for the accident, they will construe that to mean you have admitted fault, and your statement will surely find its way into their accident report. Since police are responsible for making a preliminary determination as to which driver was at fault for the accident, do not make their job any easier by saying something incriminating. While you should always try to cooperate within reason with police, say as little as you can until you have consulted with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer.
Get Immediate Medical Treatment
When you get injured in a motorcycle crash, your injuries may run the gamut from minor to life-threatening. Along with cuts and bruises you receive from hitting against your bike, other vehicles, or nearby items, you may also suffer broken bones in your arms, legs, and face. Also, even if you were wearing your helmet upon impact, it is still possible for you to suffer a concussion or a more serious traumatic brain injury. No matter your injuries, always get immediate medical treatment at the scene and later at a hospital. By doing so, you protect not only your own safety and well-being, but also have your injuries entered into your medical records. In doing this, you make it much harder for insurance companies to deny your claims for compensation. Should you experience issues with an insurance company that is hesitating to provide you with much-deserved compensation, speak to a personal injury lawyer who is knowledgeable about motorcycle accident cases.
Perform Necessary Bike Maintenance
Prior to beginning any ride on your motorcycle, it is always best to check over your bike to make sure everything is working as expected. Remember that in California, all motorcycles built or registered as of 1973 must have working front and rear turn signals. Along with this, your motorcycle’s exhaust system must be in full compliance with the Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act. In addition, also make sure your bike’s brakes are in great shape and that your tires are properly inflated and have good tread. Once you have determined all this and that your handlebars are properly secured on your motorcycle and turn easily enough for you to maneuver while on the road, it should be safe to start up your bike and head to your destination. While this may take some time, it will be a critical aspect of your accident case and may be a deciding factor in whether or not you are granted compensation. To discuss these aspects of your case in more detail, schedule a meeting soon with a California motorcycle accident lawyer.
Remember You Can Lane-Split
If you find yourself dealing with lots of traffic, remember that California law does allow motorcyclist to lane-split. However, you should only do so when it is safe for you and surrounding motorists. If you take reckless actions that result in an accident, you may find yourself being held liable for the accident. Also, remember that it is not wise to ride on the shoulder of the road in an attempt to pass vehicles. Not only is it dangerous, but it can also damage your motorcycle’s tires, which could also lead to an accident. Should you be riding your motorcycle and be involved in an accident that others may attribute to reckless lane-splitting or other acts of recklessness or negligence on your part, always hire the services of a motorcycle accident lawyer to protect your rights in these cases.
Document the Accident Scene
If you managed to avoid serious injuries and also came away with your smartphone intact, make sure you take some time to document the accident scene. By taking photos and even videos with your smartphone, you can gather evidence showing the scene exactly as it was immediately following your accident. From documenting damage to your motorcycle and other vehicles, visible injuries you and other drivers may have sustained, and other things such as skid marks, poorly-maintained pavement, and traffic signs and signals, you can turn this evidence over to your personal injury lawyer who knows the many complexities associated with motorcycle crash cases. In doing so, your attorney can review the evidence and compare it with information contained in the police report. Once this is done, your lawyer can often spot discrepancies that can ultimately help you win your case.
Negligent and Careless Drivers
Even though California law affords motorcyclists the same rights on the road as standard passenger vehicles and other vehicles as well, many who are behind the wheel don’t see it this way. As a result, motorists may choose to do things on purpose to make your ride down the highway or through the city much harder. If they do, chances are they are violating various aspects of the California Vehicle Code. For example, if a nearby vehicle is driving so slow that is impedes or blocks the normal movement of traffic, the motorist is violating VC 22400. Also, if a motorist leaves a door on their vehicle open in a negligent manner that interferes with the safety of other motorists, it is a violation of VC 22517. If any of these violations played a factor in your crash, make sure you document them if possible and make your attorney aware of these acts immediately.
Wear Your Safety Gear
Along with wearing your helmet as required by law, also try to wear other types of safety gear to protect yourself while riding your motorcycle. This should include clothing with long pants and sleeves, along with sunglasses to help protect you from the sun’s glare. By doing so, you give yourself a solid chance of avoiding road rash or other similar injuries.
To learn about your legal options following a motorcycle accident, contact a California motorcycle accident lawyer today to schedule a consultation and discuss the circumstances surrounding your accident.